[Academic] North Korea Issues

As usual, I copy and paste my essays on National Development Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region class, especially for the North Korean part. In early 2013, North Korea and Kim Jong Eun became a hot topic in international affairs. Here are some of my opinions on some issues in this country :). Happy reading :D!


In the early of 2013, again, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) did a controversial and aggressive behavior by doing third nuclear test. The first and second tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009. In January 2013, North Korea announced that they would carry out a third high-level nuclear test and launch more long-range rocket that aimed at the US and US close allies in East Asia region such as South Korea and Japan. All these unfriendly behavior made North Korea or DPRK become isolated from international community with economic embargo and sanction, which impacted to its economy and created some serious domestic problem.


DPRK has been one of the world’s isolated countries and most secretive societies by the communist and dictatorship rule. DPRK face a dilemma because of its economy stagnancy, especially since the end of the Cold War. Its economy mostly came from agricultural sector that heavily dictated by weather. Floods and drought becomes the biggest enemy for this sector. Another one is manufacturing production, which is really dependent on electricity and oil supplies from foreign countries.

However, even though there are a lot of serious cases inside the country, DPRK stubbornness won’t stop. And surprisingly they still can “calm” with all the pressure from international world. What makes them still can survive?

In my opinion, the first reason why DPRK still can survive in its bad shape economy and unfriendly international community because of North Korea has nuclear and missile program as its bargaining power. Dick K. Nanto (2006) said that the North Korean leaders in Pyongyang have only limited options remaining as they have placed their nuclear weapons program on the bargaining table in exchange for economic assistance, security assurance, and normalization of relations with the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

The second reason is because DPRK’s economy is still heavily dependent on foreign assistance to handle starvation of the people. For covering up the domestic problem, DRPK has been using their bargaining power (that is nuclear program) for gaining more foreign aid. Nanto and Avery (2010) in their report mentioned that the country wants to join the club of nuclear and space powers and to be an Asian tiger economy. DPRK uses “charm offensive” that seems aimed at restoring inflows of economic assistance and trade flows. This “charm offensive” defined as specific actions to ease tensions with the United States and South Korea and appears to have reinvigorated its relationship with China.

Giving North Korean international assistance such as: food, energy and denuclearization assistance has always been a dilemmatic position for the donor, especially; the US, South Korea, China and Japan. From Manyin and Nikitin (2012) writings, it mentioned that between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance: just over 50% for food aid and about 40% for energy assistance. But since early 2009, the United States has provided virtually no aid to North Korea.

North Korea has been suffering from chronic, massive food shortages since the mid-1990s where 40 percent of the population still suffers from malnutrition caused by the starvation. To fill those gaps, countries such as China, South Korea, and the United States and also the United Nations have been giving them food aid.

On February 29, 2012, after bilateral talks with the United States, North Korea announced a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities (including uranium enrichment) at its Yongbyon nuclear facilities. In exchange, the US announced that they would provide North Korea with 240,000 metric tons of food aid but in condition that the food aid on progress in security and/or human rights matters; and linked the assistance to Pyongyang for easing its restrictions on monitoring (Manyin and Nikitin, 2012).

As for the energy assistance, between 1995 and 2009, the United States provided around $600 million in energy assistance to DPRK that was given to two time periods in 1995-2003 and in 2007-2009. In exchange, North Korea was being asked to freezing its plutonium-based nuclear facilities. However, when the assistance not provided anymore since year 2009, DPRK withdrew from the Six-Party Talks and Korea launched several long-range missile and ran a nuclear device test.

Continue to next page….

Author: Sunu Family

We are an Indonesian family living in Bonn, Germany since 2017. Our family consists of Ayah (Radit), Umi (Retno/ Chiku), Kakak (Zahra), and Adek (Faiq). We will share our experience living in Germany, our trips, thoughts, Umi's related research on her study, etc.

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